Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier

 ‘It must have been getting on for three in the afternoon when at last he saw the spire of a turret above a large grove of fir trees.’ This isn’t a novel: it’s an extended magic show in written form. Just sit and wonder at it. Rural France, the 1890s. Teenager Augustin Meaulnes arrives at a village…

The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir Who Got Trapped In An Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas

 Ajatashatru is a conman who gets stuck in some furniture, ends up accidentally travelling the world, finding love on the way while changing his life and getting a book contract. Romain Puertolas, author of The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir Who Got Trapped In An Ikea Wardrobe, has an engaging, cavalier approach to reality: Ikea has never, to my knowledge,…

The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane

 I wanted so much to love this book. I tried. But it just wasn’t possible in the end. As a single volume it’s too diffuse, maybe. As a collection it’s too erratic and patchy. The cover artwork, by Stanley Donwood, is a green-and-white thing of great beauty and, as with Christmas dinner as a small…

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

 …’if we are to hold to account those who commit atrocities that lead to the destruction of humanity, then surely the knock must come, soon, for the Soup Dragons’. All fiction is of course thinly-veiled autobiography, and there is more than most, clad only in gossamer, in Caitlin Moran’s fine novel How To Build A Girl. Like its heroine Johanna, Moran was brought…